Tuesday 31st May Sierra de Bejar
We picked up Edward and Mandy at Hotel Salvatierra Rural in the village of Salvatierra de Tormes, where we saw Spotless starling (which, singing from the hotel terrace act as sustainable alarm clocks!), Iberian shrike and Greenfinch.
Our first stop was up the Sierra de Bejar mountain at the ski station of La Covatilla, and on the way up we saw a pair of Cuckoo furtively flying off. From the here we were able to observe the busy comings and goings of Bluethroat, Whitethroat, Northern wheatear, Linnet, White wagtail, Water pipit, Dunnock, Ortolan bunting, Swift, Wren, Booted eagle, Griffon vulture, Black kite, Red kite, Thekla lark, and Skylark.
They were either defending territory and singing, hunting food, or practising flight in the case of the young Linnets.
There were plenty of interesting flowers up here, including Sheep's-bit Jasione montana, Birdsfoot trefoil Lotus corniculatus subs delortii, Elegant toadflax Linaria elegans, and a mountain toadflax Linaria saxatilis.
|Lotus corniculatus subs delortii
We saw beefly Parageron incisus and a Bodega Darkling beetle, Blaps lusitanica, under some vegetation.
We then drove a little way around the mountain to Candelario for a cup of coffee in the square and to see the colony of Pallid swift alongside common Swift. On our way we saw Hoopoe, House sparrow, Carrion crow, Crag martin, House martin and Barn swallow.
From here we headed up the mountain and stopped for our picnic lunch in El Travieso, sheltered from the sun and wind by a carport. Here Edward caught a glimpse of Western Bonelli’s warbler, and Coal Tit and Bluetit were also seen. On the way up we saw Latticed heath moth Chiasmia clathrata and Marsh fritillary Euphydryas aurinia feeding on Armeria. After lunch we continued up the mountain, stopping to look at Robust marsh orchid Dactylorhiza elata, Linaria elegans, and the daisies: Leopard’s bane Doronicum carpetanum and Moon daisy Leucanthemopsis pulvurelenta, both Iberian endemics. There was also an unidentified invertebrate on a lichen-covered rock.
|Unidentified crawling invertebrate
From Salvatierra we headed southwest to Horcajo de Montemayor, in the Sangusin valley, on a semi-overcast but pleasant morning –clouds being a welcome change from too much sun - seeing Raven, Black kite and Golden oriole on the way. We watched Spanish pond terrapin Mauremys leprosa and Iberian green frog Pelophylax perezi from the bridge, then went to a Narrow leaved ash grove Fraxinus angustifolia and heard our first Scops owl of the year, as well as Green woodpecker, Golden oriole and Mistle thrush.
We carried on towards the Alagon valley, stopping by the bridge to look at the Daisy-leaved toadflax Anarrhinum bellidifolium, and the endemic Creeping snapdragon, Antirrhinum graniticum, as well as Crag martin, Grey wagtail, Griffon and Black vulture and Stonechat. The sky menaced a storm so we abandoned all hopes of a picnic.
We then went to see a very special woodland made up mainly of Arbutus with Butchers’ broom Ruscus aculeatus and Sweet chestnut Castanea sativa trees. It was full of birdsong and birds: mainly invisible, but there were glimpses of Iberian magpie, Firecrest, Songthrush, Jay, Blackcap and Bluetit through the twisted trunks and dappled foliage. From here we went to the Hotel Rural Porta Coeli near San Martín del Castañar, where I had a very refreshing swim in the ice cold pool.
We began the day birding just outside the hotel, and along a track surrounded by brooms and cistus with views across the Sierra. The main background sounds were of Nightingale, Golden oriole, Great spotted woodpecker and Long-tailed tits, but we had good views of Cirl bunting, Subalpine warbler, Redstart, Red-rumped swallow (which nest under the hotel roof!), Swift, Black and Griffon vulture and a Honey buzzard which disappeared all too quickly.
|Beetle on Andryala integrifolia
Some of the more important buildings have carved reliefs denoting their use, such as this daunting one from the old ‘hospital’ but not in the modern sense of the word: it meant Hostal for pilgrims.
|Hypericum perforatum subsp angustifolium
|Synema globosum on Anarrhinum bellidifolium
On the way back we saw Iberian shrike, White stork, Golden oriole, Bee-eaters, Little grebe (in a pond), and Black and Red kites. And so ended Edward and Mandy’s long awaited post-Covid mini-tour of Salamanca’s Wild West.
Thank you for coming out to us again (for the third time!!).